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Rallies banned in Congo’s capital before presidential vote

Supporters of opposition candidate Martin Fayulu run from tear gas fired by police in Snele, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Wednesday Dec. 19, 2018. Days before Congo's elections, the Kinshasa's governor banned campaign rallies in the capital city, citing security concerns. The capital's governor Andre Kimbuta on Wednesday cancelled all political rallies in the city for the 21 candidates vying for the presidency in the Dec. 23 elections. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — The governor of Congo’s capital banned campaign rallies in the city Wednesday, citing security concerns ahead of the election to pick a president to replace the leader who has been in office since 2001.

Gov. Andre Kimbuta canceled all rallies in Kinshasa for the 21 candidates vying for the presidency in Sunday’s election. Kimbuta issued a communique saying he had information that extremists were preparing street confrontations in the final days of campaigning.

The action angered supporters of opposition candidate Martin Fayulu who planned to attend a campaign rally in Kinshasa on Wednesday. Thousands of Fayulu’s supporters gathered along a main road stretching out from the city hoping to see the candidate. Police used tear gas on some of them to disperse the crowd.

Police stopped Fayulu himself about 50 kilometers (31 miles) outside the capital, according to his campaign manager Pierre Lumbi. He said the candidate and his team were trying to negotiate permission for Fayulu to enter Kinshasa.

The presidential election has been postponed several times. Voters are set to choose the successor to President Joseph Kabila, who took office after his father’s assassination.

Congo has not had a peaceful, democratic transfer of power since the vast Central Africa country became independent from Belgium in 1960.

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